Rail campaign Dunedin meeting attracts positive public response

A public meeting in South Dunedin to support the campaign to build new trains for Auckland in New Zealand workshops attracted around 50 people on Monday 12 July 2010.
The message they heard was that Dunedin people will have to stand up and fight to make this goal a reality, with this years local body elections and next years national elections providing an opportunity to apply political pressure.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Hillside Branch Secretary Les Ingram, who works at Hillside, said an estimated 500 to 1200 extra jobs and nearly $500 million dollars in income were at stake.
“Dunedin cannot afford to let opportunities like this pass it by if we want to provide jobs for local people in the future.”
The RMTU were continuing their campaign and wanted to get across to the public how building rail units locally would provide a massive boost in jobs and income.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) is supporting the RMTU campaign and MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood, visiting from Wellington, addressed the meeting on free trade issues.
He told the audience that they needed to get behind the Hillside workers campaign and demand that politicians listen.
He said the push for free trade policies was largely responsible for the situation where jobs were threatened due to unbalanced economic policies.
Both speakers agreed that the notion that New Zealand did not have the expertise to do the rail work was discredited nonsense.
Mr Ingram detailed previous work done at Hillside and his view was backed up by a retired engineer in the audience who recounted the many large scale projects other Dunedin firms have undertaken in the past.
The meeting was chaired by Victor Billot of the Alliance Party who said that highly skilled, high value jobs that would be created through building trains locally were exactly what was needed in New Zealand at the current time.
The approach of the National Government was reprehensible, he said.

Rail decision an indictment on Government

The Alliance Party has denounced the decision of Kiwirail management not to bid for the contract to build Auckland’s new electric trains.

Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says New Zealanders must resist a National Government that is “pulling New Zealand down.”

Mr Hanson says the work should be done in New Zealand.

He says at a time when New Zealanders are suffering from the highest unemployment in many years, the responsibility was on Transport Minister Steven Joyce and the National Government to take action.

“National is stealing jobs from New Zealanders as they have the ability to turn this incredibly bad decision around – if they wanted to.”

“The current National Government and Kiwirail senior management have let New Zealand down badly.”

Mr Hanson says unless the decision is reversed, it will result in higher unemployment, worsen New Zealand’s balance of payments, and reduce our ability to manufacture advanced industrial products.

He says high quality studies have shown the potential benefits of building the new electric trains locally.

Dunedin City water plans will unleash a torrent of resistance

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UPDATE: Dunedin City Councillor reacts to Alliance:
“Oh for God’s Sake”

The Alliance Party says proposals to push forward user pays water metering will unleash a torrent of resistance from angry Dunedinites.

The Otago Daily Times today reported that Dunedin City Council has warned getting water for free is a concept the public “needs to get away from”.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says that the Dunedin City Council “needs to get away from the concept of ramming through right-wing user pays policies with no mandate.” Continue reading

Cadbury's job losses indicate a failing system

Alliance Party Dunedin North candidate and trade spokeperson Victor Billot says the loss of around 145 jobs at Cadbury’s in Dunedin was an indicator of the serious problems faced by working people in New Zealand.

“We are seeing a slow motion disaster for working people as secure jobs evaporate in Dunedin and throughout the nation as major players like Fisher and Paykel and Cadbury shut down plant and lay off the workforce.”

He says Dunedin can’t take continual hits like this, and workers needed support, but were unlikely to get it from the current Government or a National Party whose answer to unemployment was to attack the unemployed. Continue reading

Radical solutions needed to save Dunedin jobs, says Alliance

The Alliance Party says the closure of the Fisher and Paykel plant and Tamahine factory in Dunedin has seen a collapse of any type of local or national leadership to deal with the problem.

Alliance Party trade spokesperson Victor Billot says workers have been ignored as the vital part of the solution.

“There are an enormous amount of skills and human ability out there, but the response of Government and business is to weep a few crocodile tears and just carry on as usual. Frankly the workers at these outfits would get more headway if they occupied the factories and refused to leave, and just started producing goods again. They don’t have anything to lose. And you can be sure the local community would get right in behind them.” Continue reading